International Spartan Athlete, 37-year-old Hallvard Borsheim, shares his top five tips for preparing for your next adventure race, whether it’s your first or tenth… A 5km Sprint or a challenging 23km beast.
1. Work towards it!
For adventure races of any length, training is crucial. The upcoming Hatta Race for example, will feature two race lengths, a 5km Sprint and a 23km Beast. Regardless of the length you sign up for, your training should be consistent (3-4 times per week at minimum) and should cover the same distance at least 10 days before the race. Training with a friend you’ve signed up for the race with is also a great motivator.
For a race like the Spartan, add in movements like burpees, mountain climbers, push ups and rope climbs if you have access to gym facilities. Group workouts such as the Spartan’s free Workout Tour which takes place in Dubai every Friday in the lead up to the race are also great for preparation.
2. Train for the terrain but don’t over train
Adventure and obstacle races take place in a wide variety of settings so it’s important to prepare yourself for the terrain. The terrain in Hatta has steep inclines and the climb on the surface will be rocky and hard. There is not as much sand as previous races, and uneven surfaces will make it difficult. I would suggest practising hills – either on an incline trainer or find hilly terrain, or run stairs. If you have the time, go to Hatta and test the trails!
While you want to be prepared and ready, don’t over train during last week before the race. If you have not put in the hours before last week, it’s too late and no point to try to squeeze in more sessions. Rest for the race day and stay fresh.
3. Load up on race fuel, but no crazy diets!
A Couple of days before the race, you can including more proteins, loads of carbs and good fats into your diet. Also, hydrate a lot so it builds up “storage”. In case you would like to try something new, test it before a training session some weeks before the race and not on race day.
An upset tummy or too little energy could be your worst enemy. Eat as normal, if you are doing a long race like the Beast, I always try to eat as much as possible to fuel up. On the race day, have a normal breakfast, just maybe a tad bigger than usual. Breakfast should be minimum 2 hours before, and possibly a banana or power bar just before start. The last thing you want is to run on empty half way in the race.
4. Be prepared
Prepare as much as you can ahead of race day so you can focus solely on your race. Read the race’s website for instructions. Sign your race waivers online and create a checklist of what is required on the day. Plan your drive and scout out the designated parking area.
Bring lots of water and snacks to help you fuel up during the race. I use GU Gel, but you can also bring along power bars – it depends what works best for you and your tummy. For water, there will be hydration stations present along the course, but if you think you need more a camelback might be smart. Just consider the fact you have to carry the camelback through all obstacles. A change of clothes is also a must for any Spartan Race.
5. Enjoy the thrill
Don’t forget to enjoy the race. Each obstacle race is unique and the Race in Hatta – although challenging – will be quite scenic. Whatever your level, focus on you only, and go at your own steady pace - don’t be tempted to run faster in the start. Take your time before any obstacle. If you have any questions how to complete it, ask a Marshall.
If you are approaching a difficult obstacle, get your heart rate down and focus, watch how others do it. If you find it extremely difficult, don’t let it get you down, you now know what you must work on for next time. Remember to have fun throughout and keep focused on that amazing feeling of accomplishing a challenging a Spartan Race.
More information can be found on www.spartanarabia.com
-Hallvard Borsheim is an international Spartan Athlete fresh off his first-place finishing at Thailand’s Spartan Race